A new report by the European Union commission claims that Facebook spies on it’s users, including those who have never had a Facebook account by use of plug-ins and tracking cookies. The report suggests that Facebook tracks internet users with cookies in order to sell targeted advertisements to third-parties. This breaches European law requiring users to choose whether to have tracking cookies placed on their devices or not.
This report puts Facebook in a bad spot. Facebook is already under scrutiny in Europe for its policy of tracking users, though in January Facebook updated its privacy policies. However, Facebook never stopped tracking people, according to The Guardian. According to the European Union commission, Facebook’s Like button is used to track users all over the web. If you see a like button on a website, Facebook might be able to place a cookie on your computer to track you.
It’s already known that Facebook tracks it’s users but this report raises many concerns for users who have logged out of the social media website. The report says “when a logged-in Facebook user visits a site with Facebook social plug-ins, Facebook receives the Facebook ID and browser ID, along with the URL of the page being visited.” The report further states “when a Facebook user explicitly logs out, Facebook keeps uniquely identifying … cookies in the browser, which are then used to track logged-out users across the web.”
However, Facebook has denied the report produced by Belgian Privacy Commission and in a statement claims that:
“This report contains factual inaccuracies.”The authors have never contacted us, nor sought to clarify any assumptions upon which their report is based. Neither did they invite our comment on the report before making it public. We have explained in detail the inaccuracies in the earlier draft report … and have offered to meet with [the report’s commissioning body] to explain why it is incorrect, but they have declined to meet or engage with us.”
We have found that Facebook does use a large amount of tracking cookies and local storage. Some cookies expire 2 years from now, while others have been found to expire in 1969. This may suggest that the cookies that expire in 1969 never expire. Some cookies will also transmit data on any type of connection.